Q: What exercises the body, the brain, the senses, the imagination, strengthens listening skills and improves executive function?
Research on music education in early childhood has resulted in an abundance of support for its many benefits. Brain research demonstrates the activation of various parts of the brain, such as language processing, memory, mathematics, and creativity, through music. The National Association for Music Education states that music should be integrated and woven throughout the day, as well as during time dedicated solely for the purpose of music for its own value.
As I walk the hallways of Harbor each day, I hear teachers using music to signal clean-up and transition times, power brief dance/movement breaks, and set the tone for quiet moments of reflection. I hear students singing rhyming songs, clapping rhythms, and personalizing song lyrics. Many studies have found that “singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life” (Julene K. Johnson, UCSF). The more singing, the better!
Sitting in on one of Ms. Wilson’s Preschool music classes this week, I was impressed and delighted to see all of the above-mentioned musical learning opportunities taking place. The children entered to a backdrop of soft music and found their place on the rug. They worked on rhythm and rhymes, all while engaging their bodies in movement. They sang gleefully and even the quietest of children sang with enthusiasm.
Taken together, these exercises can help children’s organization of thought and multi-tasking skills. Playing an instrument further fosters this development and skill building, as it requires organizing, regulating, and arranging the information before memorizing it. Music also gives children another way to express themselves.
As Elaine Winter explains in her article in Independent School magazine on music education, “we provide children with joyful opportunities destined to enrich their learning for years to come.”